Memory Match: Red card for Preston North End midfielder in the trip to Luton Town in August 1998

Preston North End’s visit to Luton Town in August 1998 had plenty of action packed into the 90 minutes.

Thursday, 10th December 2020, 3:00 pm
Referee Steve Bennett grabs Preston North End midfielder Michael Appleton before sending him off against Luton in August 1998

It might have ended in a standard looking 1-1 draw but there was plenty to both entertain and enrage the 5,392 crowd.

North End played the last 16 minutes a man down after Michael Appleton was shown a red for launching himself into a two-footed tackle on winger Dwight Marshall.

It was Marshall who had equalised Jonathan Macken’s first-half effort for PNE.

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PNE celebrate Jonathan Macken's goal against Luton

There were great saves at both ends of the pitch, one from Luton goalkeeper Kelvin Davis denying Mark Rankine a stoppage-time winner.

Tepi Moilanen at the other end had earlier gone above and beyond to make a save as play swung from end to end.

Referee Steve Bennett didn’t endear himself to the Luton faithful despite showing Appleton red.

He missed a blatant handball from Gary Parkinson in the box, huge sighs of relief reportedly coming from the PNE camp at that stage.

North End skipper Sean Gregan challenges in the air against Luton

What the draw did was keep North End unbeaten in the first week of the 1998/99 campaign.

They’d opened up seven days earlier with a 3-0 win over York City at Deepdale.

A 0-0 draw at Grimsby in the first leg of the League Cup had followed in midweek, then came this trip south to Bedfordshire.

For the entire first-half at Kenilworth Road, it was North End on top.

Michael Appleton is sent-off by referee Steve Bennett at Kenilworth Road

With Dominic Ludden in fine form pushing up from the left-back position, the visitors launched wave after wave of attacks.

Macken, Ludden, Rankine and Kurt Nogan all had chances but saw them go begging.

Nogan, playing against his former club, missed a sitter in the 23rd minute, kicking fresh air instead of the ball with the goal at his mercy.

A shot from Macken spun off Marvin Johnson and hit the post as Preston continued to knock at the door.

Things get heated at Kenilworth Road following Michael Appleton's challenge on Dwight Marshall

They finally made their pressure count four minutes before half-time.

Sean Gregan knocked the ball forward for Macken to chase.

Macken played a pass out wide to Appleton who looked like he was shaping to deliver a cross into the middle.

Instead, Appleton cut it back to Macken who swept a shot past Davis.

Just after half-time, a shot from Gregan cannoned off the bar.

Luton equalised in the 54th minute. Steve Davis hooked the ball into the baox from the left, Sean Evers nodded it down and Marshall rifled a shot past Moilanen from eight yards.

Parkinson escaped giving a penalty away four minutes later, then Moilanen made a fine save from Herve Bacque.

The game’s big talking point came in the 74th minute with Appleton’s dismissal.

It was a 50/50 challenge with Marshall but the North End midfielder chose to go in with both feet.

Marshall, who had broken a leg when on the end of such a challenge 18 months earlier, stayed down fearing the worse.

A fracas ensued involving both sets of players and both benches. Once things had calmed down, Mr Bennett pulled out the red card.

North End stuck men behind the ball to see out the last quarter of an hour but were to almost snatch a win in added-on time.

Substitute Michael Holt held up the ball and laid it into the path of Rankine 25 yards out, his shot superbly saved by Davis.

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